Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Contagion Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
All-star virus thriller is intense, uncompromising.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 55 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A deadly contagion is a challenging, deadly opponent, but humanity ultimately triumphs through perseverance and compassion. It may not be exactly how hard science works, but it's an admirable takeaway. (Also, wash your hands!)

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though some characters react poorly under pressure (looting and holding others hostage), many others are selfless, protective, and willing to put others first in the name of service and love.


Citizens loot and hurt others out of fear and panic; patients die frothing at the mouth. A gory autopsy is shown, with a scalp being pulled back.


A near-kiss between two teens. Discussions of one woman's philandering.


Infrequent use of words like "s--t," "ass," "hell," and "oh my God." Also one "f--k."


Many label mentions/appearances: Taco Bell, StarKist, Purell, Sbarro, Rayovac, Audi, Dasani.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking at a bar and casino.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this grim thriller about the spread of a deadly, fast-acting global virus helmed by Oscar-winner director Steven Soderbergh and populated by an all-star cast (including Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow, among many others), may be too intense and/or overwhelming for younger kids given its stark, uncompromising depictions of death and the somber, sometimes scary exploration of what it's like to live in a constant state of fear. Expect disturbing imagery (including a gory autopsy) and mature themes, such as death (in one case, of a child) and infidelity. There's also some swearing (including "s--t") and social drinking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byflipflops2012 October 23, 2011

Not Too Inappropriate!

Contagion is quite dramatic, and sad. It was a good movie, but not as good as I expected it to be. It sort of dragged on, and I had a hard time staying awake to... Continue reading
Adult Written byEiola_Scamander May 7, 2020

I'm okay

I believe people should at least be 13+ to watch this movie, but my younger brother is 10 years old and he LOVES it. It is pretty disturbing. (taking out the br... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byVic001001 December 31, 2019

Really good but disturbing

Not too scary or too gore (except from the autopsy scene and maybe the people dying) but with a scary/disturbing message behind it (it could happen tomorrow and... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2018


I watched this when I was 11 at a sleepaway camp and was unwilling to touch anything on the way home. It does have slight gore like the otopsy scene but that wa... Continue reading

What's the story?

Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), a married Minneapolis executive, flies to Hong Kong on business. Upon her return, she's gripped with flu-like symptoms, has a seizure in her kitchen, and dies. Her husband, Mitch (Matt Damon), is in shock. Meantime, the Center for Disease Control is flooded with calls from around the country -- and the globe; whatever killed Beth is killing plenty of other people, too. Meanwhile, a blogger (Jude Law) is convinced of a government conspiracy and hypes an alternative remedy, while others are up in arms and start looting. It's up to Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) and his investigators (including Kate Winslet), as well as other scientists and doctors around the world, to identify the agent and find a cure before the planet loses millions more citizens.

Is it any good?

With a stellar cast, a gripping pace, and a subject matter as hard to shake as the virus that spreads through its story, CONTAGION is a winner. (When your first instinct after seeing the movie is to attempt not to touch anything on your way home and to wash your hands thoroughly, you know it hit its marks.) Though some cast members have more camera time than others -- Damon, for instance, who's first rate, and Fishburne, in a meaty, satisfying role -- the film is a masterful ensemble piece in which no one hogs the spotlight.


Given the subject matter, it's surprising how Contagion doesn't unfold like a hospital-based TV drama. Jargon pops up in seemingly organic and very necessary moments; it's explained well, too. Emotional moments are used selectively, grounding the film in humanity without becoming maudlin (or manipulative). An Internet subplot hovers dangerously close to excess, but manages to pull away from the brink. All in all, it's a Soderbergh win.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes this film scary and/or intense. Is it the tone? The subject matter? Are you scared that something like this could really happen?

  • Parents, talk to your kids about any fears the movie raises. For tips, try this article.

  • How does the movie portray the Internet as a source of information regarding disease and health?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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